Diarmuid Connolly must wait to lodge appeal against 12-week ban
Any appeal by Diarmuid Connolly will have to be on procedural aspects of the challenge
Diarmuid Connolly walks down the tunnell at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly will have until next Monday morning to lodge an appeal against the 12-week suspension handed down by the GAA’s Central Hearings Committee in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
The current All Star had looked for a hearing after declining to accept the same 12-week punishment when proposed by the Central Competitions Control Committee, after he had been seen to push linesman Ciarán Branagan during the Leinster quarter-final against Carlow in Portlaoise on 3rd June.
Referee Seán Hurson drew attention to the infraction - defined as ‘laying a hand on, pushing, pulling or jostling’ - in his report but had not acted on it during the match with the prescribed punishment of a red card.
One of the main reasons behind Dublin’s request for a hearing was believed to be a desire to test the situation that has arose whereby referee Hurson added to his report post hoc, having not taken any action - either on his own initiative or in response to it being drawn to his attention - at the time. This practice is unusual but apparently not unprecedented.
By not taking action at the time, Hurson it was argued could be deemed to have taken a decision not to pursue the matter in which case the charge might have fallen. Instead it was accepted that the referee’s report supersedes any other consideration.
Connolly is believed to have argued with the assistance of video evidence that his action didn’t constitute even ‘minor’ physical interference under the rule. Neither Branagan nor Hurson appeared to notice the incident at the time.
In such cases video can only be used to disprove a referee’s report and once an incident is included in the report it ranks as evidence. Clearly in this case the argument was rejected, as the infraction was deemed to have been ‘proven’.
The hearing lasted nearly five hours, concluding with the decision of the committee being published just before 3.0 on Wednesday morning.
Any appeal will have to be on the procedural aspects of the challenge, as it has been accepted that the infraction happened.
In another case from the same match, also heard on Tuesday night, Carlow’s Brendan Murphy had his red card rescinded on the grounds that the first of two yellow cards had ‘been issued in error’.
This meant that the prescribed suspension of one match for an accumulation of three sendings-off (either for double yellow or black cards) in the same year was not imposed.
He will as a result be able to face London in the first round of the All-Ireland qualifiers.